Review: On The Sunday, She Created God by Gerii Pleitez, by Shelley Carter

Title: On The Sunday, She Created God
Author: Gerii Pleitez
Publisher: Kara Sevda Press (2019)
Genre: Literary Fiction Novella

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS

On The Sunday, She Created God is a gritty, unapologetic glimpse into the lives of urban outcasts. It paints a picture of life in the underbelly of the city, fuelled by drugs and sex. We follow Wren, Babe and Teddy—all wanting to escape the city, and all wanting to run from something.

During a hazy, drug-fuelled NYE party, an old flame of Wren’s suddenly reappears turning her world upside down. She and Teddy have not seen each other for a decade; he is now married, with a child, and Wren still harbours feelings for him. Wren and her best friend, Babe, have been planning a road trip for some time, and Teddy decides to tag along—with life-changing consequences.

One thing that struck me immediately was the writing style—punchy yet eloquent. Vulgar but not misplaced within the story. It is a massive departure from the literature I have been reading recently and I flew through the novella. Pleitez combines detailed characterisation and the grunginess of the urban party scene to dive headfirst into taboo subjects within the story.

The author doesn’t shy away from visceral, deeply affecting descriptions and emotional situations that may seem like a no-go zone for some writers. Towards the beginning of the story we get a sense that something isn’t quite right with Wren, which she just chalks up to drug-related nausea. However, we soon discover she has miscarried. What is particularly heartbreaking (and all too real for some women) is that Wren endures this miscarriage alone and has to come to terms with her loss in isolation.

“The red in the toilet bowl was alarming; I thought I had ruptured something internally. It was the kind of red you’d imagine from a carnivorous orchid holding itself open for prey or when the wound runs deep from a machete-hack or the pulsing hole of a knife wound.”

The author has a definite talent for thought-provoking and eloquent prose, and I found myself highlighting and going back to read certain phrases and paragraphs. There was a particular use of metaphor that I found especially stunning and it painted a picture of a young woman struggling with her identity—both personally and career-wise—as well as her El Salvadorian roots. In regards to Wren as a first-generation Australian, the author writes:

“First generation, translator children, who’d bridge the language barrier between the living and the nearly dead. Between those who were raised here and for those who left everything behind. The kids with the exotic lunchboxes were my friends. We weren’t represented much.”

The characterisation of the side characters was also superb, with the author’s use of metaphors once again proving to be gems of prose. When describing the way in which Teddy has abandoned his roots and has entered the world of the privileged, Pleitez says:

“He was no longer a rat like me; humble, dirty and seething, fighting for every scrap, trying to gnaw through the aluminium frames of shiny new homes. He had escaped that single-parent, ripped fly-screen, scum-bag childhood we bonded over and I’d hoped we’d heal together.”

For most reviews, I try not to just copy and paste chunks of text, but it’s hard not to with On The Sunday. I adored this book, and want to make sure prospective readers are seeing the true scope of this debut author’s talent. One of the benefits of being published by an independent press such as Kara Sevda is the ability to write without being censored; to write without having to change your words to suit a mass audience. I think that’s why I loved this book so much. It was intense, compelling and gritty. It captured the dark side of the city, of friendships and relationships, and of ourselves. It holds a mirror up to society. It’s feminist, well-written and I find it hard to believe it’s only Gerii Pleitez’s debut novel. I look forward to reading what she comes up with next.

 

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